SEDGEMOOR District Council has again set a balanced budget with no cuts to public services for the coming financial year.
This despite having to deal with the Covid pandemic – with an estimated £4m financial impact in the current year on Sedgemoor’s finances – coupled with the fact that nearly all staff working from home for 11 months of the year,
A council spokesperson said: “There is a firm commitment to press ahead with ambitious plans to invest £1m of growth into the local economy as well as spending in priority services – all set in the context of a future stable five year financial position.”
A council statement also outlined other measures including:
- An additional £180,000 grant to Citizens Advice, to help them continue their vital work in supporting residents
- £250,000 for the approved the Climate Emergency Strategy and its Action Plan, setting a pathway for the council to meet its declared target of becoming Carbon Neutral by 2030. It is an ambitious plan and will also play a crucial role to support our pathway to recovery from this pandemic and will help build some additional resources and staff will bring forward a fully costed resource structure for Council’s approval, which will ensure the successful of delivery of plan and process for Sedgemoor residents. A number of SDC projects are being developed such as electric bike fleet, extra pool car, extra charging points, Tree Officer, water refill units and public EV charging.
- Further support for our extremely successful graduate and apprenticeship schemes of £400,000. Over the past five years, we have helped 36 apprentices and five graduates to start their careers. This money will help a further 12 apprentices.
- Additional monies of £84,000 investing in our IT infrastructure to help home working for staff.
- £30,000 a year towards Spark – the infrastructure organisation for the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise sector. Spark have played a pivotal role in the Covid crisis, supporting local community groups to support the community, they created Covid helpers, supporting volunteering, and been a source of information and guidance to the volunteer organisations.
- £80,000 for the communities of Wlstock and Stockmoor, which will be a one off fund, linked to the defining of priorities working with ward members, Town Council and communitity organisations
- £15,000 for Cheddar Active Travel which will look for long-term solutions to the anti-social issues in Cheddar Gorge which is essential to recovery and building back better.
- A top-up one-off grant, in addition to the Town Fund monies, of up to £15,000 for an Eastover Hospital/Infirmary feasibility Study and £11,000 specifically Penel Orlieu – Classic Buildings Feasibility Study. Both the projects are within the Town Fund bid, currently with government.
- A specialist Economic Development officer to help business recovery across the district.
- An additional funding for resorts and beach safety, with RNLI lifeguards on all Sedgemoor’s beaches – full details are yet to be agreed.
At the meeting of SDC’s Full Council today yesterday members voted to approve the Council Tax and Housing Rents for 2021/2022 with an increase in the district council tax of £5 per year on a Band D.
Cllr Duncan McGinty, Leader of Sedgemoor District Council said “This has been an extremely difficult year with the impact of the Covid Pandemic and its financial implications, not just on this Council, but on the wider economy.
“I would just like to pay tribute to the staff and members, who not only have risen to the Covid occasion and provided help, support, advice and sometimes a shoulder to cry on, but have continued to do the day-to-day work that keeps the council delivering for its residents and businesses.
“The figures presented include the estimated cost of Covid and these have been funded by government grants and use of specific reserves. This Council has continued its strategy of a managed use of balances and specific regard has been given to the need to deliver a balanced medium-term budget, which is robust and will achieve our commitments.
“It should be noted that a countywide 2,000-strong, survey carried out in winter 2020 by Ipsos Mori, one of the world’s leading research companies, showed that 67% residents are currently satisfied with public services provided by district councils. Additionally, in 2019 65% of Sedgemoor residents said that they were extremely satisfied with our services.”
The Council Tax will see an average Band D property pay £172.32 this year for District Council services. This includes £1.80 that is raised on behalf of the Somerset Rivers Authority each year. It goes directly to the Somerset Rivers Authority and enables it to implement and fund the 20-year flood action plan for the county. An additional £40.85 goes to the Internal Drainage Boards to help with their work. This leaves the actual amount that SDC retain for spending on its services at £131.47 per Band D property.
Sedgemoor’s element of the council tax will be increased by 3.02% – an additional £5 per year on a Band D property, that is 9.6p per week.
Sedgemoor is still in the top 25% of councils for the lowest band D tax and the lowest in Somerset if drainage board levies are excluded.